In the Shadows of the Kremlin and the White House: Africa's Media Image from Communism to Post-Communism

Article excerpt

In the Shadows of the Kremlin and the White House: Africa's Media Image From Communism to Post-- Communism. Charles Quist-Adade. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2001. 242 pp. $39 hbk.

This book focuses on racism and the role of the media in the institutionalization of prejudice in Russia. Presenting a catalog of victims of racial discrimination, incidences of xenophobia, and some damning racist commentaries in the media, the author exposes the contradictions, politicization, recrimination, repercussion, and myopic simplicity in the media treatment of diversity in Communist and post-Communist Russia. Quist-Adade's ten-- year residence in Russia is dominated by his eight years of research for this book. The volume is a spin-off from the author's doctoral dissertation. It is one of two books on Russian media and Africa published in the United States in 2001 by two former African students at St. Petersburg State University (The other book is Eribo's In Search of Greatness: Russia's Communications with Africa and the World, Ablex/ Greenwood). Although the authors are of two different generations and research backgrounds, both volumes complement each other in documenting the ideological dogmatism in the media of the former Soviet Union.

Quist-Adade reiterated on page 180 that the objective of his book is to examine the socio-cultural and historical factors affecting media coverage of Africa and the use of stereotypes during the Communist and post-Communist governments in Russia in the portrayal of images of Africa in the press. This objective led to a series of questions by the author that the author himself points out on page 181 that he may not have answered satisfactorily. The author's frank outspokenness, bravado, and scholarship, which are commendable, are exhibited in his analysis of the media in Russia and the West.

He interjects laconic humor, anecdotes, and ironies in the in-depth examination of the historical, cultural, and political connections between media coverage and cognitive effects. In his analysis of the ramification of the interplay between the media and ingrained xenophobia cum cultural chauvinism, Quist-Adade rejects the cheerleading role of the media in Russia, Europe, and the United States. The media are depicted as active promoters or perpetrators of racial invective, discrimination, and denigration and, as such, cannot be regarded as victims of discredited racial manipulators and devious gurus of white supremacy. Citing examples from South Africa, Ethiopia, Somalia, Angola, Ghana, Nigeria, and a host of countries in sub-Sahara Africa, he points out discriminatory coverage of Africans and African events in European and American media.

The book is divided into five chapters. There is an introduction but no conclusion. Chapter one is a prologue. It examines the relationship between the Kremlin and Africa during the Communist era. The thirty-two-- page discourse focuses on Gorbachev's glasnost and perestroika and Yeltsin's post-- Communist rule. …